How to Write a Rescue Scene


Part One

  1. What are they being rescued from and who is rescuing them?

»A. Can be the environment or a person. Possibly a structure that failed or caught on fire.

I. Depending on if your character is the rescuer or rescuee/victim, this scene can go multiple ways. Buildings, cars, floods, natural distastes of all kinds, people, animals, their own selves. That list is a majority or the situations a person is saved from. Choose one if you haven’t already. Common causes of a building being the cause of  rescue would be a fire brought on by a gas pipe, a cigarette bud, a person creating the fire themselves.  Someone who is saved from an animal could be at a zoo, their own animal, someone else animal. They may have been torturing the animal or, usually if wild, the animal attacked them. Someone trying to die will be rescued from themselves. Could be a mental problem or drugged.  

II. A civilian can just as much rescue someone as a firefighter can. But keep in mind they most likely won’t have the skills, training or equipment. Also remember, a firefighter could take a while to come as oppose to a nearby stranger helping. And sometimes certain situations do not require trained rescuers. For example, if someone is choking and a person knows the Heimlich Maneuver, then the mission can indeed be completed without extra services.  


»B. How hard is it to get to the victim/character? What barriers are there?

I. Has a concrete wall fallen down before the rescue team can reach the victim? Did a portion of the mountain cover in so much snow that no one can see the victim anymore? Barriers can be weather, random break downs of the structures, surprise attackers, devices that can explode, so forth. Think about if these barriers were premeditated by someone or simple an unlucky draw.  


II. What is heard or seen? A scream echoing in the wind? A cry of help, fire blazing high in the distance? Silence which is alarming — afraid the victim has died. Can the rescue team end of using the barriers as an aid? fallen wall can be lifted to create a bridge to the next floor or a slide for the victim to come down. The rain can stop the fire from burning or spreading. How has the barrier aided, if at all, to the rescuers or victim.  



Part Two

    1. How are they helping or how can they help their rescuers?

»A. Any object or equipment they can make? Direction to give? Warnings to say about certain areas?

I. “Don’t go near that puddle, it will electrocute you!” The victim may call out. Or they tie a bunch of clothing together from the people who are already deceased and use it as a rope to throw down to the rescuers.  “I’m near the elevator on the right side of the building.” They could say when giving directions. Write a warning the character tells the rescuers if they can hear them.  

II. Let’s say the rescue team cannot hear the victim. Or even find them. OR, they don’t even know if there are any victims alive. Then have a loud thump repeatedly sound. It’s coming from upstairs. There may be someone there. How about a shoe falling from the third floor. Or thrown in the direction of the rescuers. Where did it come from? Who threw it? Is someone still alive?  


»B. Can they meet their rescuers halfway? If your character is the rescuer can they get the victim to meet them halfway? Encourage them?

I. Meeting halfway would greatly improve the outcome of being rescued. Unless, while getting there they get hurt, die, or worse, get lost. Might even go further from the rescue team, accidentally. Well, was it on accident? Or purpose? Is this some sort of sick game being played on the rescuers to trap them? How about meeting a quarter halfway?

II. If the character is stuck and cannot move, meeting halfway is nearly impossible. Unless there is someone with them such as a person or dog. A dog has great instincts and can get through things that humans can’t. Meeting halfway for the animal, whatever it may be, could save the life of the victim. A person who can meet halfway for the other victim is just as useful and can communicate the circumstance the other person is in.
III. Any pep talks given? Reminders for the person to stay alive and not to close their eyes? If your character is the rescuer, have them encourage the victim to continue pushing the huge bolder to the side even though their arms are becoming tired. How much time do they have before the building collapse? There might only be seconds left on the device before it explodes. Does the character tell the victim this information or keep it to themselves for fear of worrying them?


Part Three

    1. What is lost during the rescue and/or before it took place. How are the rescuers (if at all) going to retrieve it?

»A. Could be a person. Important item. A part of their body. Even hope or a will to live could be lost depending on how hurt the person is.

I. We all have different items that are important to us. Some make since such as a purse with photos of loved ones in there and credit cards. Others need more of a backstory like a necklace who was given by a grandmother that past away. Just looking at the necklace no one would know right away. In saying so, does the victim (or rescuer) lose something while being saved and asks to go back and get it? How dangerous would it be to retrieve the item? Does the rescue team attempt to go back and get it or do they tell the victim it’s impossible.

Almost always, a person who is lost will be searched for. It is rare for a search/rescue team not to go back and look for remaining life. The circumstances need to be extreme to prevent them from saving someone else. Parts of a body, miscellaneous items may or ma not be retrieved.  Time is of the essence.

II. Retrieving the item or person can be as easy as walking two steps to pick it up. Or flying the helicopter back, risk the snowstorm destroying everyone. A rescue could not be done the same way a second time. What is different about saving this person or item from saving the first person? What direction do the rescue take? The same route?  


»B. Will the rescue team wait till it’s safe to return? Will they go in to get the item/person while it’s still unsafe? The victim could go back in to get it themselves, going against orders.

I. When a second rescue is deemed safe, a few people will go in to search for the item/victim. Unless, it is deemed unsafe, a hero may come out of the woodwork and decided to risk their life for a stranger. Though, a second rescue doesn’t have as much time as the first. Keep in mind, however, that the team now knows the area, having gone in there the first time. Even if the time is further limited, it isn’t a lost cause. There is hope.  

II. A victim who goes in to get the item/person themselves usually has adrenaline pumping through them. It can prevent them from thinking things through. Understand, that going in for a second time can put the victim at risk. They can get injured, die, or possible save the person but not themselves. A victim who decides to do this may have a strong attachment to the person or feels survivors guilt. They possibly feel like no one else can save them but their self.  



Part Four

    1. What happens to the place that the character has been rescued from? Or do they still have to go further to escape it?

»A. Victim escaped one area but not has to escape the other with the rescue team. Or, escape wasn’t quite successful so only part of the victim is freed.

I.  A building can go up in flames, collapse, a car can be crushed, burn, a person can choke, pass out, get shot. The gruesome list continues. I would like to stop there. You get the idea. After or during the rescue, what is happening to the area around them?  

II. How far have the come and do they need to go further? Sometimes a rescue team thinks they saved someone when really they also need to save themselves. This constant danger could take a toll on the character and the will to live or continue on may diminish. How much worse is the area this time around?   

»B. Does the place still stands? Does it become an unlikely safe haven for the rescue team?

I. Victim may watch the place they were once bond, now fall to pieces with the rescue team. Think about what is going on in their mindset as they witness what COULD have been them. Scene becomes even more intense of a person or item could not have been retrieved.  

II. For a twist, maybe the place the victim was just saved from, becomes  safe haven for everyone. The area that they all stand in could collapse from the weight or is worse off. Now, the victim, including the rescue team might go to the zone where it had been deemed dangerous. To stay alive, the would be willing to test the waters.


Part Five

    1. How are the rescuers thanked? Who is there? The media? Loved ones? Random Civilians?

»A. Character will or will not show gratitude. Not everyone who is saved wanted to be.

I. A simple thank you would suffice. Except, they may give their most prized possession that the rescue team bravely went back to retrieve for the victim. A hug, money, a kiss, food, a cry from the hear, a bow. You can be creative. What does the rescuer want in return, if anything? Do they simply say: you’re welcome, don’t mention it, it’s my job, nothing, smile, etc?  

II. What do the loved ones and the people around say about the rescue such as the media or civilians? How is this person shown to be a hero? How are the rewarded? With clapping? Cheers? Money? Promotion? Spotlight? A plaque? Nothing? If the rescuer(s) died them a memorial could be given. A day celebrated for them. Movie made about them?  

III. Someone who refused to be saved but was anyway or a victim that wanted to die because they lost their health or a loved one in the accident, may hit or yell at the rescuer. Be unappreciative, fight and could end up arrested after being saved.  



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